Little Rock, where I live, is hoping to increase the sales tax rate. Here's some relevant local news coverage:
You can find lots more just by Googling "little rock sales tax increase" as it is all over the place lately.
Not surprisingly, you'll find me voting no next Tuesday morning.
I'm sympathetic to the mayor's desire to increase the city's revenue in order to upgrade services and all, and I believe him when he throws out factoids like that the city's sales tax rate is practically the lowest in the state and that it hasn't been changed in almost two decades. In fact, these are largely things to be proud of!
Yes, I'm a whiny libertarian, but I'm also realistic (or try to be). I'm not expecting the mayor to start privatizing services to reduce costs and increase value, even though I'd support him if he did, because I know he'll never do that. Fine. I accept the reality. I accept that, as a typical city, it needs money to perform various services it has taken upon itself to perform. Fine.
Of course I would like it if our police and fire departments had adequate equipment and technology with which to serve and protect us. Of course I would like to see some of the roads resurfaced and improved, et cetera, et cetera. These are all nice things, to be sure.
I ask that instead of squeezing us for more money during an economic recession he find a way to prioritize the spending that he's already doing. If he cannot pay for everything then he needs to start cutting the less important stuff so that our police can get new cruisers or radio systems or whatever it is he thinks they desperately need.
You see, this is what normal folks have to do. We have to look at the money coming in from our job and prioritize the spending of it. Probably the house and food come first. Maybe I'll have to give up Netflix and HD channels for a few months to save money if the water heater needs replacing soon. You see how I did that?
Sure, sacrifices suck, but they're a normal part of living. You can't have it all.
So I propose that no, you can't have more money from me, Mr. Mayor. Instead, why don't you find some existing area to cut and use that instead, if you really think all these services need these upgrades and improvements?
He's just hoping that a rate increase will be easier to pass than to have to actually cut something. Unfortunately, he's probably right. A single penny increase impacts more people but to a lesser degree than, say, firing some dead weight, selling off a park or two, or telling Workforce Services that no, you can't just dole out bags of free money to suckers this year. The smaller subset of people would be a lot louder about it than the grumbling you'll get (at best) from a measly penny increase across the board.
Still, while it probably will be easier to pass, that doesn't make it any less wrong to do.
For some practical arguments (and thus less on the it's-the-principle-of-the-thing reasons like I've given), see this letter by Circuit Judge Griffen that I mostly agree with.